Thursday, June 4, 2020

How to respond to a world in crisis: Inner and Outer Transformation


See through globe on rocks

Oh Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then for that which thou was created.  Bahá'u'lláh


Recently, my teenage daughter and I were in the hammock and she was feeling life was not fair. That's not surprising for adolescents to ponder, and I also know this usually has a background story, so I asked her why. She said her white friends don't have to worry about racism, about their father or brother being pulled over and getting hurt, and that doesn't seem fair. She's right, it's not fair and yet, it's not that they don't have to worry about racism, they do, they may not know they do and that is dangerous. 

For me life has been about transformation, since I was eight-years-old I began to consciously think about how to transform my life. It started with a dream. 

My parents divorced when I was three and by the time I was eight, I had been shuttled back and
forth between my mother and her New England, Anglo family and my Bolivian-Quechua Indian dad and his family in California. Neither had remarried, and both had strong roots with their brothers,
sisters, aunts and uncles and so by default did we. To say it was confusing to be shuttled back and
Author and her sister as children
forth between cultures is an understatement - it was traveling between worlds and worlds that in textbooks collided and crashed and in reality, often was not much different with meat and potatoes in one home and llajua con silpancho in another, saluda con un beso every time you see a family member and to hug only once when you first arrive and when you plan to leave town. Every ritual, family norm, cultural nuance, pitch in language, rhythm of movement, everything held a unique meaning to each culture and I found myself often in trouble for getting it wrong with one group or the other. And then suddenly we moved, to a very small town in southern Mexico, in the furthest tip of the state of Quintana Roo, an hour from the now famous Tulum - back then no one knew of its existence except for locals and the occasional lost European tourist. I too was completely lost and felt I would never be normal again. 
I turned on the only person I could think of, my deceased eldest brother. Seems funny to say that, but my brother David had always been a part of our life. My father talked about his passing as the first born son, we went to his gravesite, we prayed for him, he was present and he wasn't and that made me mad. At eight I was mad - how come I got left behind to deal with the madness of the world and he didn't? I cried and howled to the moon. As I lay in my hammock, I railed at my brother. I was hurting, I missed my father, I felt confused by so many languages and cultures, I didn't feel a part of any world and here I was in the middle of a jungle in a hammock with no hope of ever making sense of what had become my reality. 

I cried myself to sleep. And that night I had a dream. An elder man, very warm, gentle and kind in his demeanor was walking in a garden with me. He was holding my hand and wore what I thought was a strange garment, I know today it is called an Abá - a traditional middle Eastern garb men wore. He asked me if I wanted to know why my brother didn't make it and why I did. I said yes. Because you will make it, you will survive and grow and develop. And when I awoke, my brother had become my ally and I knew my reality would change, I would persevere and be ok. Just like that, I was healed.

Now transformation is not that easy, it happened that this has been the only experience that has healed me so immediately, however it did spur me on a journey, on a path of change and it is one I have diligently followed with increasing focus ever since. 

Maybe because I was born of two great oceans of ancestors, I refuse to take sides. How could I, my ancestry makes the whole of my earthsuit, they give my life a long storyline and they remind me of what is sacred and real: The nobility of the soul. 

My Irish ancestor, who was in the revolutionary war, was a Lord, but when he fell in love with a commoner, he chose to release his title and all the lands that were attached, for a more noble and higher goal, love. With this in his heart, he crossed over from Canada to New England and settled in Vermont. 

My grandmother Cruzesa, of Quechua Indian heritage, was only allowed to legally attend school until the sixth grade, even though she had helped her father, one of the first indigenous lawyers, to translate the law from Spanish into Quechua that their people might know their rights. This experience settled her on a strong sense of justice for the rest of her life. 

These stories are the long line of history I stand on and they remind me the choices we make matter. 

I share these stories with my children, I remind them continuously of their nobility. I knew the best antidote to injustice would be to develop strong children, who knew their inner reality was solid gold and if they ever reflected anything other than that, it was because they were in transformation. 

That is how we grow and transform, through great tests and difficulties. We grow when these tests and difficulties cause us to face the darkness and sadness in us, when we are willing to look at the false narratives we tell ourselves about who we are. Where do these narratives come from? Initially, they come from younger versions of ourselves. These younger selves when faced with difficult and
negative Reflection of a woman
painful experiences don't understand what to make of these experiences and if there is no healthy adult to help them understand what is happening to them, they create a narrative, a reason why and usually it is them, they are the problem - we become the problem. Our false narratives generally sound like this: I'll never be good enough - No one will ever want me - I will always be alone. 

I have found in my work that all human beings have some form of false belief about who they are, it's not surprising as all of the world civilization was touched by colonialism and in colonialism these narratives were systemized. It is in colonialism that people were systematically told there is an ideal and most likely you fall just short of this ideal. No one ever reaches this ideal, even the most blue-eyed, fair-skinned person, because it is not real and is devoid of anything spiritual - it is only based on a material image, a material mirage. However, it was systemized by color and this then put people in gradations of this ideal and of course, those that were at the bottom of those physical characteristics - the darkest hues of brown - would be the furthest away from this "ideal". And so a systematic way of ensuring false narratives that would materially empower a selected few was born.

This means narratives about who we are are also systemic in nature and because they're told through a material lens, they're also faulty. Coupled with my already faulty internal narratives, the external stories of who I am reinforce my false beliefs about myself and I begin to believe the stories the world tells me. This is particularly devastating when those narratives tell you that you are criminal, prone to violence and less intelligent. Of course, they are also devastating when they tell you that you must be perfect, the ideal and at the top. Social narratives are heavily influenced by our material world and thus, once again, fail to see the whole picture nor capture the whole human being. 

So how do I then deal with a world that is the throes of a crisis that promises to dismantle civilization should we not deal with it and promptly?

I am reminded of this quote when faced with this question:

“Then what Christ meant by forgiveness and pardon is not that, when nations attack you, burn your homes, plunder your goods, assault your wives, children and relatives, and violate your honour, you should be submissive in the presence of these tyrannical foes and allow then to perform all their cruelties and oppressions. No, the words of Christ refer to the conduct of two individuals toward each other. If one person assaults another, the injured one should forgive him. But the communities must protect the rights of man.” - 'Abdu'l-Bahá
I must keep one eye on my inner reality - where and when are my inner false narratives active and how do I continuously work with them to remind these younger parts of who I am that I am loved, that I am wanted, that I am valued. If someone personally injures me, work to forgive them as I know my noble self knows the truth of who I am and no one person's injury can remove that truth.

If I am not vigilant with my inner reality these narratives will run rampant and they will manifest themselves in everything I do. It will be my husband's job to make sure I feel loved, wanted and valued. It will be my boss who must demonstrate that I am valued and important. And if left unchecked within me, the world will need to prove to me my worth and it will always fall short of this as it was not designed to reflect our true reality. The material world is just that, material and we are spiritual in nature, we can never hope for the world to capture our true reality and reflect that to us, so I must not go to the world hoping it will see and value me, rather I must always see and value myself and by doing this I will do the same for others.  

This in no way means we are not actively challenging the world and its systems of oppressions, we do, we just don't expect them to tell us the truth of who we are, because they will always fall short of recognizing the truth our true essence. So I must actively work to address institutionalized oppression when I witness it and work through every available institution to seek justice. Systematic injustice and tyranny must not be tolerated, rather they must addressed and swiftly, through institutions that have the capacity to hold them accountable. If these institutions need to be dismantled and reimagined to better reflect the nobility of the human soul than this is what we, as a society, must do. 

So what I told my daughter in the hammock was this: We are all noble souls, but failing to see the purpose of this life, to transform and develop our souls, keeps us as mere animals. As it is through tests and difficulties that we grow, this world is a form of spiritual gym. Everyone is in this gym but some, it may seem have more gym equipment and seem to be tested with more vigor and intensity and will either develop strong spiritual muscles or be destroyed by their tests. Others, don't see all the equipment, or think its not for them and stay on the sidelines and these friends are truly the ones who lose, because rather then exercising their spiritual muscles, they become atrophied and can easily get ensnared and consumed by the material and selfish aspects of this world.

We cannot continue to demand systemic change and not ask the people who are in these systems to also change - and that means all of us - this is not an either or, it is an and, period. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Love. An energetic force that binds and tears apart.

In a world that seeks to know, understand, move forward, advance, what space is there for love? Why does it matter? And what is this magnetic force anyway that draws us near and then tears apart, sometimes it seems all at the same time?
Multiple colors forming circular movements

I have been reflecting on the power of love in my life and its capacity to at once hold everything together and then tear everything apart. This sounds odd. Let me explain.

It is love, of course, that first draws me near to my loved ones: my husband, my parents, my children, my dearest friends. And this initial draw is a glorious feeling of warmth, excitement, possibility, openness, all the energies of the universe seem within our grasp when love shows up - and in some sense they are!

Once I am in love's hold I become intimately close with those who are in this embrace with me. And this is where the rub begins. This intimacy asks of us to move toward acceptance of what is and have faith that more will come, and that is not something we can do without letting go. So odd that loves asks us to let go, but it does. I need to let go of all of my ideas of how I think these loved ones should behave, respond to the world, how I think they should love me, what I think they should do - love says let go and let me take hold of your heart and bring you faith and trust.

This is where love tears apart, it tears apart any false beliefs I have about who I am, that I am some how need to be okay with how others should show up to the world, how others should respond to certain situations, how others should even love me - especially if I love them. Love also tears apart any veils that keep me from seeing the truth of others - that all my loved ones are human beings in the process of opening up to their own true capacity, like me, and in this process will make big mistakes and move in ways that may be confusing or cause me to question who they are and how they are approaching life. And then love will say, let go, just love them, that is all they need. It is hard to do this, I want to tell them what they should be doing, how they should be doing it, even where they should be doing it and with whom! Goodness! But love is strong and because it is so strong in my life, it reminds me constantly that my only job is to love. Should these loved ones approach me to share their difficulties and ask for guidance or support - than yes! I can offer what ever I have and then again, let go and stay in love.

As I've traveled this journey with love a few times, there are a some nuggets I've learned:

Sometimes, its not as important to stay in love as it is to know how to get back to love! It's the journey to love that matters most, because it builds all the capacities we'll need to stay longer and longer periods of time in love.

When we show up everyday to the moments of our lives, even the difficult ones and perhaps even most importantly those, it is here where we develop all the tools necessary to illuminate the barriers to love. Thus those things that we once thought were obstacles become stepping stones!


Big boulder like rocks randomly lying around on grass
 So what does it look like to show up? And what are the obstacles that keep me from loving someone unconditionally? That's it! Identifying what are the conditions I place on others on how they should love me - those are my obstacles.
So if I think my husband should do certain things for me - kiss me when he gets home, tell me he loves me every day, hold me when I'm sad, be romantic, give me gifts and flowers on my birthday - or that my kids should do certain things - hug me when they see me, become doctors or engineers, tell me what is going on in their lives - then when I expect these things and they don't happen, I am placing conditions on how I think my husband and kids should show me they love me!
I'm saying, this is what love looks like so love me this way. Of course, we can do this, but by doing this we might miss the magic of how to love more openly and how to receive love from someone else through their own gifts. It's okay, you say, I want my love the way I like it! That is okay, then what I have learned from love may not be meaningful to you. For those who are interested, read on!

Whenever I see love through my own eyes and begin to expect others to love me this way, these expectations have hidden message and they become obstacles:

  • Why doesn't he kiss me when he comes home from work? - message: He isn't happy to see me
  • Why doesn't he hold me when I'm sad? - message: He doesn't care
  • Why doesn't he give me gifts on my birthday or why doesn't he know what I want on my birthday and give me that? - message: I'm not important
  • My kids pull away and don't tell me what is going on in their lives - message: I'm not trusted
  • My kids don't know what profession they want - message: I failed
Obviously these can vary, however, hopefully you get the gist - expectations that we hold over others and how they express love can become oppressive and ultimately create false beliefs about our value. Love asks me to flip these obstacles over and find their gifts. One of the ways to do this is to identify the emotion that is tied to the false belief and then look for its opposite, what would happen if you flipped the obstacle over?
Circular Stepping stones in a shallow body of water
  • If my loved one isn't happy to see me, is it me? Am I the problem? - Emotion: Fear, flip it over its faith
  •  If my loved one doesn't care about me, is it me? What if I'm unlovable? - Emotion: Fear, flip it and unlovable over and it can also become certainty - how can I not be lovable, whoever created me also created the majestic mountains and endless oceans!
  • If I don't get expensive gifts from my loved one, does that mean they don't value me? Emotion: Sadness, flip it and of no value over and it's joy and worthiness!
  • If my kids don't share with me all of their joys and pains how can I help them? Does that mean I'm untrustworthy? Emotion: Sadness, flip untrustworthy over and it's joy trust!
  • If my kids don't know their path in life then I failed and if I failed, will I ever be good enough? Emotion: Fear, flip it and not being good enough over and it's limitless faith and self-assurance.
None of these messages are intended to bring shame. In my own personal healing work and in working with others, I have found these hidden messages to be universal across gender, ethnicities, etc. 

What I have also found is that as I steadfastly walk closer and closer towards love, I am asked to release these false beliefs, about myself and others! And when I can do this, others become incredibly beautiful in all of their glory. I stop deciding how they should love me and keep focusing on how very much I love them and how to continue loving them more!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

How to have conversations of oneness when living under the boot of racism.

"The Path to guidance is one of love and compassion, not of force and coercion." - The Báb

Image of two hands connecting with a sphere


It is difficult to talk about things we don't know about, especially in the culture of the current climate of the era we live in. Making a mistake is not explored, rather it is denigrated. Not understanding something is ridiculed and you are accused of not doing your work. How then can we learn?

It is difficult to explore this area of not knowing, especially in the light of racism that has caused so much damage. A fear that can keep us from healing is simply this, What if I don't know how to talk about racism? And yet, if we do not learn more about how to engage in this conversation more effectively and ultimately dismantle its deep roots, we all lose.

I've had many opportunities to engage with diverse peoples around this conversation, in particular in settings where those present wanted to learn how to engage in addressing racial prejudice and not fall into camps of either or, right and wrong, good or bad. Here are some of the nuggets we are learning. I say learning, because everything is in transformation right now and what may work today in the near future may continue to be molded and remolded again and again. So what are we learning? Your posture in these conversations matters deeply and creates a strong impact on how the conversation continues and develops. 

Of course, posture could also be called attitude - the attitude you carry when you do something. I like posture, because it assumes your whole being is walking into this conversation. This has always been important to examine when we do anything. We often examine our attitude when we do math, when we decide the pros and cons of a relationship, even when we decide if we will succeed at something or not. Why would we not examine our attitude when we address the most important issue of our era - the oneness of humanity.

A good place to start is with motivation: what is our motivation in engaging in this conversation? Do I want to convince others I am right? Do I think I know the truth and want to say it out loud? None of these or any others am I suggesting are bad motives. It is important to know what is driving you in this conversation. Here is a list of qualities I have found helpful to explore when looking at our posture in this conversation:


  • Absolute love - This seems like a tough one, but I have found that if love is not present most conversations can go nowhere. Love makes room for forgiveness and the possibility of joy. We have to make room for everyone, it's the oneness of humanity we are seeking, and that means no one can be out - love can make this happen.
  • Purity of motive - This goes back to why am I having this conversation. If I'm engaging in this conversation to convince others I am correct, then the assumption is I have the answer, and right now, I think we can assert no one has the answer. However, with purity of intention, I'm willing to learn with you to find the answer together. 
  • Detachment - If I don't have this, then it is difficult to find the answer together, because once again I think my answer is right and I don't want to let it go. Or I'm attached to my emotions and by not allowing them to process, they cannot transform and thus they can cloud my vision. 
  • Humility - This is a hard quality for us in the West, everything in our society teaches us to be first and to stand up and charge ahead. Again, these are not bad qualities. However, if we are not humble and do not make room for others and their experiences and ideas, then we are shutting out the possibility of finding truth and allowing the collective wisdom to shine through. 
  • Patience - This will take time, it took 400 years to settle this cancer of racism deep into our culture, it will take time to remove it. We can and we will succeed in removing it, there is no doubt that humanity is moving forward toward a global vision of itself. And yet, we can imagine, to remove this cancer, it will take diligence and love and that will take time and a willingness for all to participate.
With these qualities creating the conditions for an honest exploration of the problem at hand, we can walk in with a desire to learn and a willingness to change. In our current climate, if someone doesn't understand something we call them out or get angry at them for not doing their homework. However, is it my job to police the behaviors of others? To make sure they get it? I'm not sure it is. I can share what I've learned, but this too must be offered in a humble and loving way. Again, I don't have any answers, just ideas that may contribute to answers.

Finally, we cannot look at things in a dichotomous way either. This is not an either or. This reflection merely tries to capture the qualities that would be helpful in learning how to talk about racism. This does not in any way dismiss the importance of knowing and understanding the history of institutionalized racism and its impact on the separation of people and its destructive nature on our psyche.

Is it important to know about the history of a nation and in particular about those on the bottom foot of oppression? Of course it is.
It is imperative we learn from those most severely affected by oppression - how did they survive and thrive despite their circumstances? They have much to teach us.

This also does not dismiss the current impact institutionalized racism has on the lives of people living under its boot. This is a complex issue and one that will most likely take centuries to completely unravel. I'd like to suggest, however long the road is that we must travel, it begin with love.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Our Breath: Bonding our Spirit to our Body

"Within the very breath of such souls as are pure and sanctified far-reaching potentialities are hidden. So great are these potentialities that they exercise their influence upon all created things." - Bahá'u'lláh

Woman in sunlight by Photo by Natalie Grainger on Unsplash
Recently I was reflecting on how the use of breath can help us move from our constantly thinking mind into the body...this inner landscape that holds so much of our story...and it occurred to me that the breath is really the bond between body and spirit. Our breath has truly been with us all our life in this world and it keeps our soul actively connected to our body through its rhythmic movement...inward, outward and back inward again. Its job is to keep our body connected to spirit that we might remain actively aware and present and ever connected to the Divine.

Why does this matter?

This world has so many distractions that can have our mind spinning. If we allow these distractions to run rampant, without the proper framing or boundaries placed around them, they become thoughts and these thoughts race around our mind trying to find a belief they can attach themselves too and call home. If we are not aware of these thoughts, they slide into our mind undetected, and before we know it we are struggling.


  • Why do I have to do everything?
  • Everyone else has it together, why can't I?
  • What is wrong with me?
  • When will I ever be okay? 
These become some of the racing thoughts that spin out of control inside of our mind and undetected our breath becomes shallow and we begin to feel hollow. 

What if none of this was true?

But what if we were actually okay? What if we do have it together and we really do have all we need? 

Our breath is one of the greatest teachers of truth if just follow it:

  1. The breath is constant, it will not stop until its job is done.
  2. The breath will open worlds unknown, just follow it on its inward journey through the body.
  3. The breath trusts the body to respond to it and thus has a loving relationship with the body.
  4. The breath is gentle.
  5. The breath is present.
If we just follow the breath inward it will open up before us our inner landscape. 


With each breath we pay attention to, more will be revealed to us about who we are...ours is to sift through the false voices that tell us we are not enough and to land on the truth that reminds us we are deep and vast like the ocean, filled with life and an abundance of gifts awaits our attention...if only we take the time and search with love. 

Check out my latest episode on my podcast, The Human Experience: A Lab of Limitless Learning, where I explore this idea of utilizing our breath to connect our spirit to our body, getting us closer to love. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Como creer que lo que haces importa, aunque el mundo no cambie

Cada época tiene su propio problema, y cada alma su aspiración particular. El remedio que el mundo necesita para sus aflicciones actuales no puede ser nunca el mismo que el que pueda requerir una época posterior. Preocupaos fervientemente de las necesidades de la edad en que vivís y centrad vuestras deliberaciones en sus exigencias y requerimientos. - Bahá'u'lláh











¿Lo que digo y hago, realmente importa? Hay tantas fuerzas opresivas sobre nosotros hoy día, que a menudo nos quedamos con la sensación de que nuestro pequeño trabajo, nuestros esfuerzos diarios son realmente tan minúsculos en comparación con la batería de no que nos enfrenta que parecen estar trabajando en contra no solo de nosotros, sino de todo lo que queremos. Entonces, ¿cómo puede importar nuestro trabajo?

Esta es una pregunta que ha cruzado mi camino varias veces, la mayoría de las veces conversando con otros y cuando me involucro en un espacio de sanación con las personas con las que trabajo. Inmediatamente mi cuerpo responde con un endurecimiento en el estómago y sé que es miedo ... entonces, ¿a qué tenemos miedo?

Esta vida nos desafía de muchas maneras, pero una de las más fuertes es que en nuestra esencia estamos hechos de espíritu y, sin embargo, vivimos en un mundo material. ¿Por qué importa esto? Porque la energía espiritual se mueve de manera muy diferente a la energía material.

¡La energía del espíritu no conoce restricciones de tiempo y no tiene límites físicos! Es por eso que nuestros sueños y visiones son tan importantes para nuestro movimiento. Podemos imaginar una realidad diferente, podemos imaginar mundos increíbles en los que participamos sin limitaciones. Debido a que esta es la realidad de nuestros espíritus, son energía que se mueve por la fuerza de nuestras visiones y sueños. Estos entonces están animados por lo que nutre a nuestros espíritus y esa es la información que alimentamos a través del material que leemos y digerimos.

Lo que alimentes tu espíritu importa.

¿Cómo alimentamos a nuestros espíritus? Maestros divinos y sabios de todas las épocas han dicho lo mismo: Santas palabras y oraciones. Palabras santas que elevan tu espíritu y visión a una imagen real de quién eres. Oraciones que te recuerdan tu verdadera esencia y te fortalecen para continuar.

Pero, ¿ya importa leer el texto sagrado en el siglo XXI?

Afortunadamente para nosotros, la ciencia occidental se está poniendo al día y nos dicen que cuando somos positivos y nos rodeamos de mensajes y afirmaciones positivos, ¡cambiamos y mejoramos! Entonces, leyendo textos sagrados, poesía que nos levanta durante la sombra de la noche, escritores que lucharon con sus demonios y encontraron luz en la oscuridad ... escuchando canciones que nos piden que nos expandamos, incluso a través de nuestro dolor, todo esto alimenta nuestro espíritu y ayuda. Ampliamos nuestra visión.

Entonces, ¿qué tiene esto que ver con el espíritu y la materia material?



Debido a que hay diferencia entre la energía espiritual y material, la energía material es estable y sólida, es lenta de cambiar y constante, por lo que puede crear la ilusión de permanencia. Cuando miramos el mundo a través de un enfoque material, pensamos que las cosas siempre serán como son, que el cambio tardará en llegar y que tal vez nunca llegue y, si creemos en esta ilusión, estaremos en peligro de rendirnos ... de no ver el inmenso valor de nuestros esfuerzos, tanto en palabras como en acciones.

Y así nos volvemos dependientes del mundo material y pensamos que para que haya un cambio debemos estar completamente a cargo. Sé que si muevo una silla sucede un cambio. Si lavo mi ropa quito las manchas. Y entonces empiezo a creer que toda la vida es así y que si estoy a cargo, entonces puedo crear el cambio que quiero controlando el resultado de cada acción que tomo. Esta es la ilusión de control: de alguna manera, si solo estamos a cargo, entonces podemos controlar los resultados.

Cuando creemos en la ilusión de control, comenzamos a estar realmente fuera de control, al tratar de controlar cada aspecto de nuestras vidas y las vidas de los demás. Dirigimos a nuestros hijos. Sometemos a nuestros empleados a la sumisión a través de sistemas de revisiones y redacciones. Manipulamos y maniobramos cada aspecto de nuestras vidas para que el resultado coincida con nuestra visión de lo que es correcto y verdadero.

Entonces, ¿por qué es esto malo?

Cuando nos consumimos tanto por el control, perdemos el control, dejamos nuestras emociones desatendidas, ya que no forman parte de nuestra visión de control y cuando dejas una energía poderosa como las emociones desatendidas, pueden volverse destructivas. Eventualmente nuestro control encontrará una fuerza que desafiará su habilidad. Cuando nos encontramos con esta fuerza, nos impulsará a someternos y aprender a escuchar nuestra energía espiritual como una fuerza motivadora o nos degeneraremos en comportamientos más inhumanos en un esfuerzo por controlar el resultado que deseamos. Podemos racionalizar estos comportamientos según sea necesario para lograr el resultado que creemos correcto y verdadero, cuando la realidad es que podemos tener miedo de lo que significa si no logramos nuestro resultado. Debido a que la dependencia del mundo material para nuestro bienestar y valor personal, nos permite alcanzar un estándar de éxito muy alto que también se mide en el mundo material. Comenzamos a creer que más dinero significa más éxito; Una promoción, significa más éxito; Una casa más grande, significa más éxito. Y perdemos de vista lo que en realidad podría ser de mayor servicio para nosotros por toda la eternidad: la fuerza de nuestro espíritu.

La fuerza de nuestro espíritu es lo único que podemos llevar con nosotros cuando morimos.


¿Y cómo fortalecemos nuestro espíritu?




Al liberar el control. Aprender a trabajar con los demás y su visión. Aprender a desarrollar el tacto y la sabiduría de cuándo hablar y cuándo permanecer en silencio. Aprender a tener paciencia y fe en el proceso de crecimiento por el que se está moviendo toda la humanidad. Y de suma importancia, aprender a tener humildad ... confiando en que todo lo que nuestro espíritu aspira, cuando es guiado por las fuerzas del amor y la unidad, seguramente contribuirá al progreso del mundo.

En palabras de una de las grandes luminarias de Oriente,

"Un hecho en este día, es equivalente a los hechos realizados durante cien mil años" (Bahá'u'lláh).

Supongo que no podemos decir realmente qué impacto tienen nuestros esfuerzos y nuestro trabajo en el mundo, pero confiaré en Bahá'u'lláh y me preocuparé ansiosamente por las necesidades de esta era en la que vivimos y haré todo lo posible para que mis acciones reflejen lo mejor de mi espíritu y de lo que tengo para ofrecer al mundo.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

How to believe your work matters, even if the world doesn't change.

Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions, can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements. - Bahá'u'lláh

Does what I say and do, really matter? There are so many oppressive forces about us today, that often we are left feeling that our small work, our daily efforts are really so minuscule in comparison to the battery of no's we face that seem to be working against not only us, but everything we love. How then can our work matter? 

This is a question that has crossed my path numerous times, most often in conversation with others and when engaged in a healing space with people I work with. Immediately my body responds with a tightening in the gut and I know that is fear...so what are we afraid of?

This life challenges us in so many ways, but one of the strongest is that in our essence we are made of spirit and yet we live in a material world. Why does this matter? Because spirit energy moves very differently then material energy.

Spirit energy knows no restrictions of time and has no physical bounds! It is why our dreams and visions are so important to our movement. We are able to envision a different reality, we are able to dream up incredible worlds in which we participate in without limitations. Because this is the reality of our spirits, they are energy that is moved by the force of our visions and dreams. These then are animated by what nourishes our spirits and that is the information we feed ourselves through the material we read and digest.

What you feed your spirit matters.


How do we feed our spirits? Divine teachers and sages of all eras have said the same thing: Holy words and prayers. Holy words that uplift your spirit and vision to a true picture of who you are. Prayers that remind you of your true essence and strengthen you to continue on.

But does reading sacred text in the 21st Century even matter anymore?

Luckily for us, Western science is catching up and we are being told that when we are positive and we surround ourselves with positive messages and affirmations, we change for the better! So reading sacred text, poetry that sees through the night, writers that have wrestled with their demons and found light out of darkness...listening to songs that ask us to stretch wider, even through our pain, this all feeds our spirit and helps widen our vision.

So what does this have to do with spirit and material matter? 



Because unlike spirit energy, material energy is stable and solid, it is slow to change and constant - so it can create the illusion of permanence. When we look at the world through a material lens we think things will always be as they are, that change will be slow to come and may never come and if we believe this illusion, then we are in danger of giving up...of not seeing the immense value of our efforts, both in words and actions.

And so we become dependent on the material world and we think if there is to be change we must be fully in charge. I know that if I move a chair change happens. If I wash my clothes I remove the stains. And so I begin to believe that all of life is like this and if I am to be in charge, then I can create the change I want by controlling the outcome of each action I take. This is the illusion of control - that somehow if we are just to be in charge, then we can control outcomes.

When we believe the illusion of control we begin to actually become out of control, by trying to control every aspect of our lives and the lives of others. We direct our children. We subjugate our employees into submission through systems of reviews and write-ups. We manipulate and maneuver every aspect of our lives so that the outcome matches our vision of what is right and true.

So why is this bad?

When we become so consumed by control we lose control, our emotions are left unattended as they are not part of our vision of control and when you leave powerful energy like emotions unattended, they can become destructive. Eventually our control will meet a force that will challenge its ability. When we meet this force it will push us to either submit and learn to listen to our spirit energy as a motivating force or we will degenerate into more inhumane behaviors in an effort to control an outcome we desire. We may rationalize these behaviors as necessary to achieve the outcome we believe to be right and true, when the reality is, we may actually be scared of what does it mean if we do not achieve our outcome. Because dependence on the material world for our personal well-being and worth, sets us up to a very high standard of success that is also measured by the material world. We begin to believe that more money, means more success; a promotion, means more success; a bigger house, means more success. And we lose sight of that which might actually be of greater service to us for all eternity: the strength of our spirit.

The strength of our spirit is the one thing we do get to take with us when we die. 


And how do we strengthen our spirit?



By releasing control. Learning to work with others and their vision. Learning to develop tact and wisdom of when to speak out and when to remain silent. Learning to have patience and faith in the process of growth that all of humanity is moving through. And of supreme importance, learning to have humility...trusting that whatever our spirit aspires to, when guided by the forces of love and unity, will most assuredly contribute to the progress of the world.

In the words of one of the great Luminaries of the East,

"One deed in this Day, is equivalent to deeds performed during a hundred thousand years" (Bahá'u'lláh".

I guess we cannot really say what impact our efforts and work has on the world, but I will trust Bahá'u'lláh and be anxiously concerned with the needs of this age that we live in and make every effort that my deeds reflect the best of my spirit and what I have to offer the world.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Perfectionism and Success: Is it an Illusion?

Consider then, how all the peoples of the world are bowing the knee to a fancy of their own contriving, how they have created a creator within their own minds, and they call it the Fashioner of all that is—whereas in truth it is but an illusion. Thus are the people worshipping only an error of perception. - 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Recently I have been reflecting on what is success, what is good, what is getting it right and what does it mean to be doing well. We have all asked and been asked, How are you doing? and we respond, I'm good. I'm doing well. But what does that mean really? Does that mean all things are in order and everyone is marching ahead? Does that mean we are all getting straight As in life and everything we do? We have set up a system of good and bad, of right and wrong, and some of us make it and others fall short. But who set up this standard? How do we know if this standard is valid and what makes it a standard? There are two sources I go to when trying to decide whether something has merit or not: Divine Teachings and Stories.

Image of dream catcher to represent a spiritual blueprint for life

Divine Teachings


What are divine teachings? They are also known as Holy books or Holy words and they come from the Prophets, messengers sent to guide humanity with a spiritual blueprint through this maze of life. One of the continuous strands of these great Teachers and their Texts is they all mirror each other. None of these Prophets deviates from the other in their spiritual concepts. They guide humanity forward with the same stream of guidance for the spirit:

  • Be humble
  • Embrace tests and difficulties
  • Live a life of prayer and supplication

So then why do we think when life is hard or when we're facing mass difficulties that it is a sign that we failed? Why do we cringe back in shame when we don't "get life right"? Why do we think prayer and supplication are for nuns and monks cloistered on a mountain top? 

I think we have strayed so far from our spiritual blueprint that we have created our own measurements and they are based on the world's standards. We believe that there is such a thing as a gifted student that implies others are not. We believe that getting straight As means we have succeeded and when we prepare hard for something and don't get it, we have failed. We have forgotten we are spirit beings first with full access to all the powers of the spirit realm:
    Young man sitting with presence and joy

  • Intuition
  • Presence
  • Love - Love - Love


These are powerful tools that can help us breakaway from this world of illusions where we measure our spirits to material standards. How far does your spirit stretch? Far beyond the canyons of the mountains, but how would you know this if every time you face a test and difficulty you cringe back in shame? If every time your kid does not make the honor roll, does not make the dean's list you hold back and wonder what you did wrong? It is not to say that those who do are getting it wrong either. It is to say that we should not measure ourselves against the false standards of man. Instead, we should look deep within and ask: 

  • What am I learning about patience? about love? about being present?
  • What am I learning about how to love deeply despite my loved one's shortcomings?
  • What am I learning about staying in the conversation when things are not going well?
  • What am I learning about what to do with deep pain and sorrow when I feel I can't seem to get things right? 

And what about stories?

Stories


I think beyond being a storyteller, I am also drawn to stories because a good story tells us of a life well-lived. They tell us of how life can try and shape and mold a person, but when led by Spirit, the protagonist in the story instead releases all control and is guided by a much deeper inner knowing, a calling, a truth that will not release them and while on the inside it is pure light and love, on the outside it can look like a mess and a half. 

What are examples of this kind of life? There are many and again, I often turn to those early believers of the great Prophets to see what they did when trying to live a life based on the spiritual blueprint they were given and not this external reality they live in. 

Paul comes to mind. I have not studied the Bible as many of my dear friends have, but when I am faced with great tests and difficulties - and I have been completely flattened out by tests numerous times - many of my dearest friends will ask me to look to the life of Paul. Paul, an early Christian teacher, spent the majority of his life in prison. He often referenced a deep and difficult pain that assailed him continuously and yet he learned to glory in this weakness because the message he got was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness." And yet, all of us try and get away from weakness. Still, the great teachers of these stories show us that in weakness they are strong, in humility they are powerful. 
Another example for me of this understanding is someone more recent to our lives, South African Freedom Fighter Nelson Mandela. What a fiery power he was his whole life and yet how different this fire showed up at different times of his life! Initially as he worked tirelessly to break Apartheid he used this fire to place a constant strain on this unjust system. After he was imprisoned, he continued to fight and over time this fire bowed to humility and his gentle presence became a testament of faith in the nobility of the soul of all humans, even those who aspired to oppress him. 

  • Humility 
  • True joy in the face of extreme pain
  • A life not of material successes

These are concepts we are not very comfortable with, instead we want demonstrations of material wealth, some outward manifestation of success that the world would applaud - surely this does not include: imprisonment, a C or D student, unemployment, underemployment. And of course, one does not desire these things, nor should one strive towards them. But if they happen to you, wouldn't the real measurement come with how did you walk these tests? Wouldn't the real question be, what can we all learn with you as you learn to walk these difficulties with spirit feet? Because if you are willing to expand, if you are willing to help us all break away from this illusion, you would invite us on this journey of life you are living and you would teach us about what you are learning:

  • How does a soul expand beyond its current limitations?
  • How does pain become a tool for healing and greater joy?
  • How do we walk away from shame and embrace humility and truth-seeking?

I am learning these things and I invite you to walk with me and I will share all I learn. I hope you will do the same.